SAGU Hires New Women's Soccer Coach
Getting her kicks
Mandy Fortner named Women’s Soccer Coach
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Mandy Fortner has come full circle. And she couldn’t be happier!
Her high school soccer career began as a midfielder, where she set-up the attack and assisted front-line attackers as a midfielder. In college she followed the same pattern. She moved from midfield up to forward, becoming a recognized scoring threat.
Once she commenced a coaching career, Fortner served first as an assistant. Now she’s a head coach, completing the cycle again.
She was officially named the new Head Coach of the women’s soccer team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. A native of nearby Mesquite, Texas, the twenty-five year old hit the ground with her feet running! Having served as an assistant coach for over two years under Tim Grant, it is Fortner’s initial foray at the top spot on the collegiate level.
“I am stoked,” she said after accepting the offer to direct SAGU’s young program, which will enter just its sixth season this fall. “I have been involved in the women's soccer program for the past few years. I have always dreamed of leading them to victory, not only in soccer but spiritually!”
“I have worked hard to earn a degree which allows me to coach at this level. I want to be the best coach I can be for these girls,” she continued.
Earning her stripes
Coach Fortner started all four years as a midfielder at Ralph H. Poteet High School in Mesquite, a suburb on the east side of Dallas. She credits much of her insights into the game to her prep and college coaches, beginning with the Pirates’ Bill Wade.
She played for Debbie and Aric Bonner at Navarro Junior College. While there Fortner was named an NJCAA All-American in both 2004 and 2005. She ranked #4 nationally in goals and assists in 2004.
Fortner continued playing at Dallas Baptist University where David Granniss was her coach. In two years as a Lady Patriot she was honored as an NCAA Division II Second Team All-American in 2006 and 2007. She led DBU is goals both seasons, completing four years as her college team’s top scorer.
“I am really excited for Mandy being the head coach,” said Tracy Griffin, who was a nationally ranked goalie this year for SAGU. “I've been pulling for her to be offered the position. It excites me for those who will get to play for her.”
“I think she will do very well,” Griffin continued. “We had a chance to work with and for her when Coach Grant brought her on board. She has a great knowledge of the game.”
Grant was the Lady Lions’ head coach the past two seasons. He will now take the reins of the women’s fast-pitch softball team that plays their inaugural campaign next year.
Q and A with Coach Fortner
Coach Fortner sat down last week long enough to answer a few questions:
Q: Congratulations on your new position! When do you start?
Fortner: Thank you! Officially, my contract starts on July 15. But I have already begun recruiting and preparing for the fall season.
Q: What made the head coaching position at SAGU one that you wanted?
Fortner: I have always had a passion for soccer and fitness and sharing that passion with others. The young ladies here have so much potential. Stepping into this opportunity was very inviting. Providing an environment for them to learn, grow and enjoy playing soccer together was attractive. I have such a heart for the team and want to help them become quality players.
Q: How do would describe your coaching style?
Fortner: I consider myself a "cooperative style" coach; leading by example, encouraging creativity and feedback from players. I want them to find motivation within themselves and each other. Mutual respect will be given and expected. This has worked well during the past two years here. It allows us to have fun but also to get things done in practice.
Q: What is your approach to the game?
Fortner: It is important to make other teams react to us, to our formation and our style of play. Realistically, I hope that we will develop a strong attack (on offense) and have a back line of defense that is able to adjust to the flow of the game. Soccer is meant to be played creatively, controlling and moving the ball around, dictating the pace of the game, waiting for the chance to penetrate the opponents back line.
Q: What are goals you want to see the team accomplish?
Fortner: I would like to see the team make it into the (Red River Athletic) Conference tournament, something we have yet to do in our young history. Another competitive target is for us to have a shot at the *NCCAA National Tournament.
Q: How many players do you hope to have on the team?
Fortner: We expect to have thirteen players returning. Plus, we look to sign at least eight players. That will be the core to build around.
Coach Fortner’s summer agenda
Over the coming months the Lady Lions’ schedule will be announced. In recent seasons they have played between 14 and 17 games, including conference matches. Coach Fortner will also announce who will serve on her coaching staff prior to summer camp in August.
The challenge awaiting Fortner is evident. The team posted a 1-15-1 (won-lost-tied) record last year when they endured six one-goal setbacks, two of them in overtime. The season before (2009) the Lady Lions had their best effort yet (4-11-1). SAGU has displayed a commendable defense but has struggled to score. Their 5-39-3 mark over the last three campaigns includes 31 shutout losses.
She will teach two classes in the Sports Management program at Southwestern in addition to coaching soccer. Coach Fortner is also completing a Master’s degree in Health and Kinesiology at the University of Texas at Tyler. It will complement the Bachelor of Science degree she earned at Dallas Baptist.
Coach Fortner’s husband, Derek, is an SAGU graduate and a former player on the Lions baseball team.
*National Christian College Athletic Association